The building housing Monster Rings & Cages, in the Cable Industrial Park off U.S. 127 near Lawrenceburg, was badly damaged by fire Wednesday evening.
“It looks to be total loss,” said the owner, Mike Samples.
At least 14 emergency vehicles from multiple fire departments gathered outside the building as firefighters opened the doors to the warehouse, and smoke billowed.
The top of the building began charring as a firefighter fought the blaze from a ladder, while Samples’ wife looked on and shook her head.
Samples said he heard a paint gun making a strange noise Wednesday evening, unplugged it and returned to his office. Five minutes later, a cleaning woman came out of the break room to find the building on fire and screamed.
“If she hadn’t been here, I don’t think I would be here now,” Samples said, adding that if he’d remained in his office even a few more minutes, he may not have escaped.
Samples said firefighters think an electrical problem caused the blaze.
A woman, who said she helped at the business and was wearing one of its shirts, watched from a line of cars parked alongside the road nearby.
The woman, who declined to give her name, said she was in the building when it began to smoke around 6:30 p.m. Her son had previously worked at Monster Rings, and she knew the owner well.
Chief Robert Hume of the Lawrenceburg Fire Department said that when he left the fire around midnight it looked like “everything inside was pretty much destroyed.” He said there was speculation that the paint used to color the steel rings helped spread the fire.
Anderson County Fire Department Chief Mike Barnes said one member of his department went to the hospital with a back injury, but the firefighter is fine now.
Samples said he has insurance, and he will seek to continue the business, which builds cages for wrestling, boxing, mixed martial arts and other fighting events. Its website says it “builds and sells more rings and cages than any other manufacturer in the USA.”
Samples is looking for a temporary location, though he said he has “no clue” where to go.
“I got 10 or 11 guys working here and three have pregnant wives and I can’t let them down.”